Maybe it’s because we have all become too politically correct, or maybe it’s because there is sooo much time spent on trying to be the most techno-savvy we can be that the simple, grassroots and fun promotions aren’t as fun or “interesting” as they once were.
For whatever reason, even with all the opportunities available to promote through new media, the “stunt” is becoming more and more of a lost art. April 1, aka April Fool’s Day, was always one of the best points where media, teams, athletes, could look for ideas that were able to capture the imagination and even if for a few minutes give people pause and some fun.
The last few days saw former NFL star Randy Moss “announce”he is joining the USL the Charlotte Independence, dressed in his blue kit with the No. 84 on the back and donning bright yellow gloves.just in time for the team’s home opener this weekend.
One year the New York Islanders pretended to forfeit a game and save their travel time to the Minnesota North Stars by announcing on air that they were “mailing in” the two points and not showing up, something which people say the San Antonio Spurs have actually done for a regular season game or two the last few years. Then there was the legendary Sidd Finch, created by George Plimpton and the folks at Sports Illustrated. Sidd’s story, on the cover of SI, became the stuff of legend and was quite believable for the short time, and lives on in video form even today, along with Plimpton’s expanded book on the topic.
In 2003, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban got into a shoving match with a phony NBA official during a timeout. Cuban, never one to shy away from controversy, was poking fun at himself for being fined repeatedly for his complaints about NBA officiating. A Mavericks equipment manager restrained Cuban during the fake fight, drawing cheers from the crowd and even a few laughs from the real officials at the game. The Mavericks’ players weren’t in on the April Fools’ Day prank, so Dallas reserve center Evan Eschmeyer rushed to help restrain the man who signs his checks.
Those were just a few of many over the years. One brand that also did a good job to seize the opportunity, although more tongue in cheek, to use April 1 as a platform for sports promotion and to have a little fun. Pirate Brands announced that the New York Mets had “traded” star third baseman David Wright to…well, the Pirates. The press release and all the great digital platforms around it went out on the 31st, and generated some fun buzz and great images for the move, which was essentially a dry announcement about Wright joining the company’s board and getting an equity stake with the group (although they created healthy snack alternatives for kids and worked with Wright’s Foundation). Still, they made something that was not much into something, using the April Fools platform. There was also a nice college push by LSU several years ago to announce they were turning the turf at Tiger Stadium purple, all equipped with a secret, faster formula to give the football team an even added edge. Great exposure, until the joke came up.
Great spin, nice visuals, and it took the day for what it is supposed to be, lighthearted engagement in a very unique way.